Throughout my years of attending school, I have noticed the issue of segregation affecting our education system. However, segregation in schools is much less apparent since Brown v. Board of Education was passed, which made segregating schools based on race illegal in the United States. However, I noticed that this does not mean that segregation has ended.  Instead, schools today are segregated based on class. However, one should question, is it really class? Or are individuals hiding behind class because it really means racism?  Historically, before Before Brown v. Board of Education there was de jure segregation (segregation enforced by the law) and de factor segregation (not enforced by the law). Brown v. Board of Education made de jure segregation illegal, but de factor segregation continues in the education system today. Thus, many assume that since the government is not involved, we should not regulate or worry about de factor segregation. Below is what I noticed in Long Island:

Before moving to Massapequa Long Island, I grew up in Queens New York, where my neighborhood was racially diverse. My block consisted of various races: Hispanics, African Americans, Whites, West Indians, and Asians. I was proud to live in such a diverse neighborhood where I learned about various cultures and traditions that were different from my own.  However, when my family and I moved to Long Island, I noticed that the environment was completely different compared to my Queens neighborhood.  Instead of having a diverse neighborhood like Queens, my family and I were the only minorities. The rest of my neighborhood consisted of White Americans. My high school was no different; I was one of the few minorities of my graduating class. Growing up in Queens and interacting and forming relationships with peers of other races and ethnicities made me realize that the relationships I developed in Long Island had a closed ignorant perspective of individuals with different races and ethnicities. This was because their racially white homogeneous community shaped their viewpoints.  In addition, my high school placed significant effort in making sure their students succeed. My high school had smaller classrooms and all teachers were required to hold extra help hours for their students. Also, the school’s budget mainly went towards extracurricular activities, such as student government, academic clubs, and sports. I was given more opportunity attending Massapequa High School, compared to my school in Queens.

Experiencing both worlds of society made me challenge what I saw and heard. Northern metropolitan areas are highly segregated not simply because whites and people of color choose different places to live. The primary cause of today’s segregation in Long Island and for any area are structural causes, such as income, government policies/laws, institutionalized practices within real estate, banking, and insurance industries (Racism and the Opportunity Divide on Long Island).  I noticed that the ways school zones are drawn are a clear indication that segregation based on color exists, especially in Long Island. In my school the zone includes one township, Massapequa, and part of another, Amityville. Massapequa is predominately white, while Amityville is mainly African-American. However, the part that houses most of its African-American residents has been zoned off to the Amityville school district. Thus, because Massapequa’s public school districts have more resources, they are better able to generate higher levels of public funding through private resources such as parents, community members, and other donors who are connected to the Massapequa Public Schools District. Even though school districts such as Massapequa may be economically stable, many other school districts in Long Island are not, such as neighboring towns of Amityville and Copiaque. Can merging school districts and teaching everyone together on equal level be achieved?

MAP 1- zoomed, focusing on Massapequa, Amityville, Copiaque, and Lindenhurst 

 

The above map shows the distribution of students by race and ethnicity in Long Island’s

school districts.

As is the case with the region’s neighborhoods, Nassau-Suffolk’s racially segregated

schools are also economically segregated.  All of the 76 districts whose student bodies

are less than 20% students of color also have student bodies that are less than 20% poor –

as measured by qualification for free and reduced lunch programs – and 62 of those

districts have student poverty rates of less than 10%.  The thirteen districts where more

than 60% of students are students of color have student poverty rates ranging from 23%

to 76%, and the average poverty rate among these districts is 50%.  The typical African

American child on Long Island attends a school with a student poverty rate two and a half

times higher than the poverty rate in the typical White child’s school.  The poverty rate in

the typical Hispanic child’s school is also more than twice the poverty rate in the typical

White child’s school.”

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